The NFL season kicks off in mere hours and even though the Patriots aren’t playing tonight, it’s still a solid excuse to order some pizza and wings and throw back the last few Sam Summers in your fridge. With about 70 hours to go until the Pats kick off, the staff here at The 300s shared their final predictions for the upcoming Patriots season.
Let’s be candid here; on the last episode of The 300s Podcast I picked the Steelers to beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship game this year, but that was BEFORE the entire Steelers organization started openly trashing Le’Veon Bell to everyone in the media. I did not expect him to actually hold out into the regular season. So with that being said I would like to issue a referendum and put my support behind the Patriots reaching their 9th Super Bowl in the Brady/Belichick era and winning it all for their 6th ring together.
Its so easy to take the field, but I just don’t feel confident about any of them. The Eagles are trying to repeat which hasn’t happened since the Patriots did it in 2003-04 and they’re relying on Nick Foles until Carson Wentz comes back from a torn ACL. Despite his SB MVP trophy, I would not want to put my repeat aspirations on the shoulders of Foles.
Just looking at the AFC who are the biggest challengers? The Steelers are in open rebellion against the crown and look like a team about to collapse into chaos. The Chiefs are banking on a guy with 35 career Pass Attempts in Patrick Mahomes. Pass. The Jaguars are a legit threat, but that is a team built around a ton of young guys who I would like to see them prove it for another year before I crown them anything. Plus Blake Bortles is always ready to implode with a handful of awful games.
Gun to head I’m taking the Patriots to get back to their winning ways. Yes, the defense was abysmal last year, but they were also ONE stop away from winning the Super Bowl. So with an improved defensive line (Danny Shelton, Adrian Clayborn, Derek Rivers) and the return of Dont’a Hightower, I like that defense to improve this year. The offense will be a work in progress while Julian Edelman is out with his suspension, but the team figured it out without him for 16 games last year so I think they will make it work.
I’m still predicting a 12-4 record, but with the recent news out of Pittsburgh, I’m taking the Patriots to go to, and win, Super Bowl LIII.
I’m not predicting Tom Brady’s demise. That would be just as foolish as betting against the house in blackjack. I do wonder who the hell he is going to throw the ball to, though. Gronk is back, but the receiving corps is pretty thin after that. Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola are gone. Julian Edelman will be coming back from a torn ACL after serving a four-game suspension. That leaves Chris Hogan as Brady’s top receiver. This feels a lot like 2006.
The coaching is good enough to get enough out of the defense, and the division is so weak there’s no real threat of the Patriots missing the playoffs. But in addition to appearing to be a bit thin in some areas, this team has played a lot of football over the last four years. I think they go 11-5, but run out of gas and lose on the road in the AFC Championship game.
Insert overplayed line about how the Pats don’t have any good receivers and that we’re not going to be the same because of it here. OK, I THINK EVERYONE GETS IT BY NOW: the team’s a little thin in the receiving corps. I’m not going to sit here and waste any more time talking about it. We still have Gronk. We still have Hogan. Edelman will be back soon. We have a great stable of backs who can all (pretty much) catch the ball out of the backfield. Also, as mentioned in this week’s podcast, Cordarrelle Patterson could be a real sneaky solid player this year. No matter what, Brady’s going to figure it out. It’s Tom Fucking Brady. (Again, he once made it to an AFC Championship game with Reche Caldwell as his No. 1 receiver. Need I say more?)
I also think the defense will be much improved, especially the pass-rush. Considering the Pats were already fifth in the league in terms of points per game allowed last year, that’s saying something. I love the addition of Adrian Clayborn and Danny Shelton up front, and they’re only going to help the young guys like Flowers and Wise continue to wreak havoc on opposing QBs. Gilmore and McCourty will have the secondary on lock, and they will also be helped immensely by the team’s much-improved line. Sure, the linebackers are a little suspect, but I think the Pats have enough in the front and the back of the defense to make up for the lackluster play in the middle.
In order not to sound like a complete homer, I don’t like the injury trend we’ve seen so far this year, and it could be our undoing. With both of this year’s first-rounders currently on the shelf, one of which could be for the whole season, and other guys throughout the roster, especially along the O-line, dealing with other nagging ailments (like the “slight tear” in Burkhead’s knee), there could be a serious depth issues at certain points this year at multiple positions. But if everyone stays relatively healthy, I say we go 12-4 but unfortunately lose to the Jags or Steelers in the AFC Championship.
Tom vs. Time reared it’s ugly head once again this week in which Brady declared he’d like to play another five years, for like the 15th year in a row. We get it Tom, you’re from the future sent back to protect John Connor.
Well Tom, Edward Furlong doesn’t need your help anymore and it’s time you went back the way you came. Stop holding the AFC East hostage and go play with your children and wife before she leaves you for someone younger. Tom vs. Time? More like Tom vs. time spent on the couch. Gisele, if you’re reading this, I am available to spend time with you every Sunday at 1. Prediction: nothing I say matters and Pats win the Super Bowl because why should I be happy?
Who got it right and who got it wrong? Let us know on Twitter @The300sBoston